Europe as a Legal Community - Monetary Union and Debt Crisis
(...) The European Union sees itself not only as a peace and economic union, but also as a legal community. Especially in crisis situations, the European Union's self-image as a legal community must and should prove itself.
First, the speakers shed light on the foundations that qualify Europe as a legal community. Prof. Dr. Rudolf Streinz (Munich) and Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur (Hamburg) emphasised that both the ECJ, with its task of "upholding the law" as defined in Art. 19 TEU, and the Commission "as guardian of the Treaties" had important roles to play within the framework of the monetary union. However, the Commission's control competences were severely limited at a decisive point by the non-justiciability of breaches of budgetary discipline by the Member States as stipulated in Art. 126 (10) TFEU, although there was a particular tension in this area due to the mere transfer of competence of monetary policy and not of financial and economic policy.
Former Federal Minister of Finance Dr. Theodor Waigel then presented the introduction of the Euro and the implementation of the Stability Pact on the basis of the Maastricht Treaty from a political perspective. The concrete violations of EU law could be noted like a red thread.
The first mistake had already been made when individual Member States were admitted to the Monetary Union. Greece, Italy and Belgium did not fulfil the convergence criteria resulting from the Stability Pact and violated Article 109j of the EC Treaty, which was in force at the time of admission. The breach of the Stability Pact, and thus the second mistake, had been committed during the implementation of the monetary union by Germany and France, which also violated the requirements after the conclusion. Finally, Prof. Dr. Christoph Degenhart (Leipzig) named the disregard of the non-bail-out clause of Art. 125 TFEU as the third mistake. Finally, Prof. Dr. Helmut Siekmann (Frankfurt) added the errors that had been committed, above all, by the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) and the ECB by violating Art. 123 and 127 (5) TFEU.
In order to create a resilient legal framework for the Monetary Union in the future, Prof. Dr. Franz-Christoph Zeitler presented various, partly contradictory solutions: one option was an extreme reaction such as the exclusion or withdrawal of heavily indebted states or the introduction of a transfer union by issuing so-called Eurobonds. However, the restoration of a functioning Stability and Growth Pact and the acceptance of "euro rescue umbrellas" are preferable. Prof. Dr. Dr. Peter Sester (Karlsruhe) emphasised that the monetary union could not exist without a fiscal union. Finally, Prof. Dr. Christoph G. Paulus (Berlin) pleaded for the introduction of an alternative resolvency procedure for an orderly sovereign insolvency.
Afterwards, Prof. Dr Peter Huber (Munich) and Prof. Dr Ulrich Häde (Frankfurt (Oder)) described the perspective of the Federal Constitutional Court on the preservation of the limits of the rule of law in the aforementioned proposed solutions. The conference was concluded by Prof. em. Dr. Charles Blankart (Berlin) and Prof. Dr. Christoph Ohler (Jena) with lectures on the future constitutional framework of the Union. The preservation of the status quo, the creation of a European federal state or a dismantling of the European Monetary Union could be considered.
The conference provided important ideas for various approaches to overcoming the debt crisis and furthering integration in Europe. The contributions will soon be published in a conference volume by Mohr-Siebeck.